Faw v. MarstellerAnnotate this Case
6 U.S. 10 (1804)
U.S. Supreme Court
Faw v. Marsteller, 6 U.S. 10 (1804)
Faw v. Marsteller
6 U.S. 10
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE COUNTY
OF WASHINGTON IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
A deed was made for land in the year 1779 rendering an annual rent in current money of Virginia forever. Held that the rent is to be paid in specie or other money equivalent thereto at the date of the deed, and the same is not to be reduced at the scale of depreciation.
A contract for the payment of distinct sums of money at different times is very much in the nature of distinct contracts, and an action of debt lies for each sum as it becomes due.
The rule which forbids a deed to be contradicted by parol evidence is a salutary one, and the Court is not disposed to impair it.
In the construction of a statute, positive and explicit provisions, comprehending in terms a whole class of cases, are not to be restrained by applying to those cases an implication drawn from subsequent words unless that implication be very clear, necessary, and irresistible.
Where a case is shown to be out of the mischief intended to be guarded against or out of the spirit of the law, the letter of the statute will not be deemed so unequivocal as absolutely to exclude another construction.
It is said the case ought to be an extraordinary one, that the circumstances ought to be uncommon, which would warrant a departure from the general principles established for the government of contracts. This is true, and the Court would certainly not feel itself at liberty to exercise on a common occasion a discretionary power limited only by the opinion entertained of the naked justice of the case.
In the month of May, 1779, the executors of John Alexander, in pursuance of a power contained in the will of their testator, set up to the highest bidder on a ground rent forever certain lots of land lying in the Town of Alexandria.
One of these lots containing half an acre was struck off to a certain Peter Wise at the rent of 26 per amount, current money of Virginia. Wise bid for Jacob Sly, a citizen of Maryland, who transferred the lot to Abraham Faw, to whom the same was conveyed in fee-simple, by a deed bearing date the 5th of August 1779, in which the said ground rent of